This is a beer I was very excited to try. Hardknott is a fantastic brewery – not only do their beers speak for themselves, but they border on the kind of slightly pretentious experimentalism that I’m all about. Plus, Dave is a thoughtful and witty individual and brings extra flavour to the enterprise.
Anyways, while that’s all very interesting to you, I’m sure, the real question for me was whether the beer did justice to its star ingredient. You may remember me talking about that Icelandic beer that used endangered whale testicles in its brew. Well, I’ve not tried that, and never would on principle, due to the immoral and unsustainable way the ingredients were gathered. The special squiddy surplus is actually cuttlefish ink, but the main thing is that it’s harvested in a sustainable way. That being ascertained, what was the beer like?
- 3.8% ABV
- Comes in 330ml bottles, but has been served on draught
- Brewed in Cumbria, England
Look The bottle’s eye-catching, but I actually worried how childish it looks, as in ‘if a kid saw it, would they try and grab for the bottle’.
In the glass, as I started pouring it looked like the brightest, clearest beer I’ve ever seen – seriously, it was like fluid cut glass. But, as the bottle says, you need to swirl the bottle to re-animate the settled ink. Then, it was interesting – not as gross as you’d think. The photo doesn’t do it justice [sorry!], but it looks like a slightly yellow, smoky ash cloud. 8/10
Aroma A sharp, lemony tang mixes with floral fruits… lemongrass… something peachy? Then on the finish there’s like a slightly oily, salty dried seaweed smell. It’s only slight, which is a shame for me, but I guess they didn’t want to make it too strong and put off most of the beer drinking public. I realise my tastes are probably odder than most folks, but if Dave’s reading this, make a Squiddy XXXX or something! Totally black and overly fishy 😀 7/10
Taste Nice. Not spectacular, but I’m surprised, at least, how well the strong fruity flavours tangle with the muddy, earthy, oily note of the ink. On the finish you get some salty, aromatic seaweed which is nice, but I was hoping for a more potent experience. It’s light, and a bit creamy, very saison-esque, but I’d rather have less refreshment, more interesting and unique flavours. Good bitterness. It sort of balances itself, but between large boundaries. 6/10
Value Very reasonable, price-wise. I’d’ve thought something so ‘rare’ would’ve been more expensive. Was about a couple of squid [sorry, pounds], and, although I’m not moved to buy more, this is a great ‘give-it-a-go’ price. 8/10
Session It’s refreshing, sure. The fruitiness isn’t too sweet, sure. Lower in alcohol, sure. Could drink a lot of it and have a good time, but it didn’t wow me enough to want to have loads. 7/10
Although this is definitely a case of ‘could’ve been better’, I had a lot of fun trying this, and I know you will too, if you can get your hands on some. I mean, come on, where’s your sense of fun? It’s cuttlefish ink in your beer!
Final score: 72/100